Post-transitional Justice

Human Rights Trials in Chile and El Salvador

By (author) Cath Collins

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 July 2011

Length of book:

296 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271036885

Latin America is still dealing with the legacy of terror and torture from its authoritarian past. In the years after the restoration of democratic governments in countries where violations of human rights were most rampant, the efforts to hold former government officials accountable were mainly conducted at the level of the state, through publicly appointed truth commissions and other such devices. This stage of “transitional justice” has been carefully and exhaustively studied. But as this first wave of efforts died down, with many still left unsatisfied that justice had been rendered, a new approach began to take over. In Post-transitional Justice, Cath Collins examines the distinctive nature of this approach, which combines evolving legal strategies by private actors with changes in domestic judicial systems. Collins presents both a theoretical framework and a finely detailed investigation of how this has played out in two countries, Chile and El Salvador. Drawing on more than three hundred interviews, Collins analyzes the reasons why the process achieved relative success in Chile but did not in El Salvador.

“This book is indispensable for understanding how Latin America evolved from a region of dictatorships, gross human rights violations, and rampant impunity to one defined by greater accountability and the rule of law. Collins goes beyond analyzing the transitional justice models of the 1980s and provides a comprehensive overview of the actors, strategies, and institutions that led to the emergence of ‘post-transitional accountability trajectories.’ Collins’s framework will undoubtedly be useful to study and advise other countries that are undergoing similar transitions.”

—José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch